TWO clear wins in the senior grade by Avril Millerick and Sean Lawton were the main highlights of the South Munster Schools Cross-Country Championships which took place at Tramore Valley Park.
On an ideal day, over 1,000 competitors took part in the six races and the programme went off like clockwork over the challenging course which was once the Cork city landfill site.
Millerick, representing St Mary’s, Midleton, had only returned from Spain where the previous Sunday she had finished 11th in the European Clubs Championships, leading her Youghal club to a brilliant sixth in the team race.
Nicole Dinan (St Angela’s) took second behind Millerick with Claire Crowley (Kinsale CS) finishing third. Mount Mercy were first in the team race ahead of Kenmare CS and St Brigid’s, Killarney.
The senior boy’s 5000m race consisted of two small and two large laps and after the initial circuit Lawton, of Coláiste Pobaill, Bheanntraí, was one of a group of four which was headed by Robert Troy from Charleville CBS.
Taking the lead after the second lap, the Bantry athlete started to pull away and at the finish had a clear margin over William Verling (St Colman’s, Fermoy) with Troy holding on for the bronze medal and leading his school to second behind CBC, Cork.
Lawton added the senior title to the intermediate race he won a year ago. Coached by Michael Harrington at the Durrus club, the 17-year-old also had a good track season in 2022, finishing third in the 3000m at national U18 level as well as setting a Munster record of 8:47.55 over the same distance.
In a close finish, Caoimhe Flannery of Skibbereen Community School took the intermediate girls race a second ahead of Eanna Duff (Coachford College) with Saoirse Twomey (St Mary’s Macroom) a further two seconds back in third.
Aidan Maher (St Colman’s Fermoy) was first in the boys intermediate ahead of Leo Murray (Douglas CS) and Kieran O’Donoghue (Kenmare CS).
The junior titles went to Ellie McRae (Scoil Mhuire) and Luke Merrigan (Glanmire CC) while minor winners were Freya Bateman (Mount Mercy) and Matthew Mahony (Midleton CBS).
The first four teams in each race, along with the top 15 individuals, qualified for the 123.ie Munster Schools Championships at Carriganore, Waterford, this Friday.
This is also the venue for the Irish championships which take place there on Saturday, March 11.